Colombia’s main harvest of Hass avocado began in the first week of September and is projected to end in week 15, April 8-4, 2024. So far in 2023, Colombia has exported 125,000 tons of Hass avocados and is expected to ship another 20,000 by the end of the year, nearly 30% more than in 2022.
This year was an unprecedented milestone for Colombia’s Hass avocado industry, as it became an important player in the global market.
The number one exporter
Cartama is the leading Colombian company in the market. It currently reaches 15 European markets, plus the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia.
At the beginning of the season, first-quarter production was higher than initially projected, leading to logistics challenges, the search for new markets and customers, the expansion of the plants’ packing capacity, and the implementation of additional shifts.
FreshFruitPortal.com spoke with Ricardo Uribe, CEO of Cartama, who says, “The number of farms authorized for export increased and last year’s harvests were still being shipped at the beginning of this year, which caused the availability of fruit to be high, and the number of containers to double, reaching unprecedented volumes. All this required looking for customers to allocate these containers and therefore more bookings with the shipping lines, which led to new negotiations.”
Sustainability, the industry’s banner
To maintain this positive momentum, the Colombian Hass industry is immersed in a series of expansion and quality improvement projects. The sustainability practices that are currently underway are: directed pollination, knowledge transfer, formalization of rural employment and gender equity, eligibility and operational work plans, impact on vulnerable communities, and promotion of Hass consumption in Colombia.
El Niño phenomenon
“The phenomenon forces producers to think about efficient irrigation mechanisms to feed the crops. Contrary to what many people question about the planting of Hass and the use of water resources, influenced by the practices used in Peru or Chile, in Colombia the fruit is grown based on irrigation from the accumulated rainwater. Therefore, with the heat waves, it is necessary to propose solutions that allow the protection and responsible use of this resource,” says Katheryn Mejía Vergelm executive director of the Colombian Hass Producers and Exporters Corporation (Corpohass).
Markets for Colombian Hass
There are now 18 markets for Colombian avocados and the new objective is to be able to enter India, due to its large population and its food tastes.
The industry has seen significant Hass price fluctuations this season. In particular, there was a marked difference between prices in the summer and winter seasons.
Regarding strategies to improve prices, Mejía adds: “Within the promotion strategies, we work, for example, with the CAB (Colombia Avocado Board) to promote the consumption of our Hass in the United States, the most important market in the world. We also carry out strategies with the WAO (World Avocado Association) to improve our participation in the European market, and with the HAB (Hass Avocado Board) to consolidate our projection based on sustainable development.”
Plans and goals for next season
Industry leaders anticipate a solid demand in the market due to a fruit shortage from other origins. In particular, other producers such as Peru will be finishing their harvest and may not be able to fully satisfy market demand. This represents a significant strategic opportunity for Colombia.
The main idea is that the Hass industry will take advantage of this situation to increase exports and international market share. They plan to maintain high-quality standards, comply with the necessary certifications, and ensure that the product remains highly competitive. They will also focus on strengthening relationships with existing customers and exploring new opportunities in emerging markets.
In summary, plans for the coming season will focus on taking advantage of lower global avocado supplies and consolidating Colombian Hass’ position as a high-quality and reliable product.
Source: Fresh Fruit Portal